There is a new ad for Maaza which I find rather sweet. It features Satish Shah as the chowkidaar of an aam ka baag, reminiscing about the good old days when kids tried to sneak in and steal the fruit. And couples would romance each other under the trees.
Now, it seems he has no work because everyone is happy drinking new Maaza with Alphonso. So that's what he does now - sell Maaza instead of mangoes! In fact the trees itself are now laden with Maazas...A bit of a creative leap but well, that's advertising for you.
This ad actually brought back memories of the summer I spent in a small town which was then more like a village, where the chief attraction was - eating mangoes. Now people in Bombay swear by Alphonso, in UP they swear by langda and there are a hundred other varieties in between.
But the mangoes at this place - Seoni in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh - were the original 'maaza'. A breed of mangoes - called Chausa - which were something quite unique.
As in all mango-eating rituals, first comes the science of selection. You have to keep a watch over the fruit to know which is 'ripe enough'. These were then dumped into bucketsful of water, to "reduce the heat". The difference with Chausa is that you don't cut it. Simply mash up the fruit between your palms, make a small hole on the top and then drink up.
It is a most amazing mango experience. The kind that makes you quite sticky and orange. The after-effects of one too many were some distressing heat boils. But, well, worth the inconvenience!
I have never seen this mango in Bombay. I'm told Chausa is kind of dying out - that it's not a variety which is in much demand for export. Hence, no new trees are being planted. Sad, I say! I have a good mind to pay a visit to Seoni one summer and taste another bucketful.
On a related note, there was a piece in DNA last week on what certainly looks like a trend that may take off. A Thane couple gives children a feel of old Maharastrian customs by taking them to a village to spend a week.
Nitin Karkare, a Thanekar, and his wife Shilpa are taking children from the city to their roots. Their summer camp called Mamacha Gavi Jauya ('Let's visit uncle's village') takes kids to their 200 year old wada (home) at Tural village in Konkan.
Among the many 'activities': Children are thrown into the village pond, play games like Lagori,"Aatya Phatya" and even ride on a bullock cart. There are camps for adults and senior citizens as well. Check out their pretty neat website.
Yup, the "native place" we all once took for granted is fast disappearing. I, for one, have no relatives left in what you would call a true-blue village. Even those in small towns lead lives not very different from mine, with all modern conveniences.
But no point crying over packaged milk. Cows, ponds and mango orchards still exist. You'll just have to pay to enjoy them now...
(mango pic courtesy Kyle's travel site)